More on COVID-19 Protection
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A study that claims to be the first review of all the available evidence of the effectiveness of physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases has quantified the effectiveness of these protective measures. The study found that greater physical distancing from an exposed person significantly reduces risk of transmission and that N95 masks, particularly for health care workers, are more effective than other face coverings.
“The risk for infection is highly dependent on distance to the individual infected and the type of face mask and eye protection worn,” wrote Derek K. Chu, MD, PhD, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and colleagues, reporting on behalf of the COVID-19 Systematic Urgent Review Group Effort, or SURGE.
The study reported that physical distancing of at least 1 meter, or about a yard, “seems to be strongly associated with a large protective effect,” but that distancing of 2 meters or about 6 feet could be more effective.
The study also identified what Dr. Chu and colleagues characterized as a “large reduction” in infection risk with the use of both N95 or similar respirators or face masks, with an adjusted risk of infection of 3.1% with a face covering vs. a 17.4% without. The researchers also found a stronger association in health care settings vs. non–health care settings, with a relative risk of 0.3 vs. 0.56, respectively (P = .049). The protective effect of N95 or similar respirators was greater than other masks, with adjusted odds ratios of 0.04 vs. 0.33 (P = .09).
Eye protection was found to reduce the risk of infection to 5.5% vs. 16% without eye protection.
SOURCE: Chu DK et al. Lancet. 2020 Jun 2; doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(20)31142-9.
This story originally appeared on MDedge.com.